Saturday, October 31, 2015

A FEW SECULAR FACTS THAT SUGGEST GOD HAD A PLAN AND A PURPOSE FOR THE UNITED STATES

A FEW SECULAR FACTS THAT SUGGEST GOD HAD A PLAN AND A PURPOSE FOR THE UNITED STATES

The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. These waterways promote and support both commerce and unity.

The American Midwest is overlaid by this waterway and is the world's largest contiguous piece of farmland. 

The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. 

Two vast oceans insulate the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. 

The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin.

HARD TO IMAGINE THIS HAPPENED RANDOMLY OR SIMPLY BY CHANCE.


The Five Stages of Religious Persecution...........

The Five Stages of Religious Persecution

Persecution of a targeted faction of society begins slowly and incrementally increases stage by stage. 

American Christians should be very cognizant that they are well into the first stages of extreme religious persecution.

Stage one commences with attempts to stereotype the targeted group. 

Stereotyping the targeted group – To stereotype means to repeat without variation, to take a quality or observation of a limited number and generalize it to describe the whole group. It involves a simplified and standardized conception or view of a group based on the observation of a limited sample.

The second stage of persecution involves justifying hatred of a particular group. 

Vilifying the targeted group for alleged crimes or misconduct – As the stereotyping grows in intensity, Christians who will not toe the line in the cultural revolution are described as close-minded, harmful to human dignity and freedom, intolerant, hateful, bigoted, unfair, homophobic, reactionary, and just plain mean and basically bad people.

Stage three involves the marginalizing of Christians' role in society. 

Having established the (false) premise that the Church and faith are very bad and even harmful to human dignity and freedom, the critics proceed in the next stage to relegate the role of the Church to the margins of society.

This is what Hitler did to the Jews as he first denied them employment in key areas of banking and education. It is at this time that every wrong act committed by a Christian will be highly vilified and publicized. It will be at this point that astute and aware Christians will be forced to go underground to practice their faith.


The fourth stage of Christian persecution involves criminalizing Christians and their churches, businesses, and educational institutions. 
But even prior to this egregious attempt to violate our religious liberty there have been many other times we have had to go to court to fight for our right to practice our faith openly. An increasing amount of litigation is being directed against the Church and other Christians for daring to live out our faith. Christians will be held up as the model for what is wrong with America with its intolerance for the free expression of every deviant lifestyle and social expression of sinful behavior. 

Stage five ushers in the direct persecution of Christians. The time for marginalizing Christians stops and the outright, undeniable persecution begins. Churches will be forced to marry gays and will be forced to formally accept the validity of the teaching of every other religion (e.g. Islam), or be found guilty of a hate crime. Even jail time for Christians is quite possible: "Already in Canada and in parts of Europe, Catholic clergy have been arrested and charged with 'hate crimes' for preaching Catholic doctrine on homosexual activity." 

If current trends continue, Christians, especially religious leaders, may not be far from facing heavy fines and/or incarceration.

Stage five will mark the beginning of the elimination of Christianity as a mainstream, viable religion.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Polarization........ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

Polarization

What happens when you get greater political polarization?

Wealth inequality is both outrageous and poisonous. Increased wealth inequality always leads to increased political polarization, within and between countries, within and between political entities. That was true in the 1870s, that was true in the 1930s, and it's true today.

Everything in the chart below is significantly worse today than in the past, and the same chart could be drawn for every other country on earth (including one-party states like China). You could also draw a chart with exactly the same dynamic for Congress. Or FOMC voting member views on raising rates. Or financial advisor views on liquid alternatives.

What this means is that we will all have a George Costanza moment where we come to the realization that all of our instincts are wrong. Most of us, of course, have already endured more than a few of these George Costanza moments here in the Golden Age of the Central Banker. I think you ain't seen nothing yet.

It's not the Minsky Moment I'm worried about, where some credit bubble internal to markets wreaks havoc as it pops. No, it's the Sideways Moment that I'm worried about, where a political accident external to markets wreaks structural havoc on the entire market system.

The likely outcome is that we will have a structural political accident that will destroy every bit of the debt maintenance and wealth creation that the High Church has labored so hard to build. I think we're getting very close to that sort of political accident.

Inequality Undermines Democracy!


Representative democracy is not compatible with deep economic inequalityAs FDR warned, "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."

A divided nation is a weak nation!

From the Pew Research Center based on 1994 – 2014 data.

Earnings vs Sales.........ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

Earnings vs Sales

It was the "earnings recession" that signaled the onset of the "bear markets" and recessions in 2001 and 2007. Much the same as we see today.


Inventory-To-Sales Ratio......ANOTHER PESKY FACT !

Inventory-To-Sales Ratio

The crucial inventory-to-sales ratio, which shows how long merchandise gets hung up before it is finally sold, has been getting worse and worse. In July last year, it was 1.17. It hit 1.22 in December. Then it spiked. In August, it rose to 1.31, the level it had reached just after the Lehman moment in 2008.

Inventories tie up cash. So inventory management is a data-driven obsession. Companies that are optimistic about sales prospects stock up. But when sales fall instead and hopes hit reality, inventories balloon and the inventories-sales ratio rises. And now it has risen to ugly levels.

When inventories get out of hand, they become a nightmare, and whittling them down often means big price cuts and write-offs, euphemistically called "inventory adjustments." Cash down the drain.

The ratio had been much higher back in the day. But computerized inventory management and ordering systems that replaced index-card systems allowed businesses to reduce their stocks while improving sales. The wholesale inventories-sales ratio declined over the decades. It reached 1.14 in October 2005. After the turmoil of the Financial Crisis, the ratio dropped to 1.13 in early 2011.

But the trend has once again reversed. And the last two times the inventory-sales ratio reached this level, all heck was breaking lose:


Manufacturing Sector.....ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

Manufacturing Sector

Manufacturing surveys and recent earnings reports suggest that the manufacturing sector might be following the energy sector into contraction.

The large gap between the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors that opened at the beginning of this year has widened in recent months.



With 14,600 manufacturing jobs lost in August, this was the worst month for the US manufacturing sector since January 2010.

The US hasn't created a single manufacturing job for the entire year. In fact, it has lost some 6,600 jobs.


Net Interest Margin Signaling Economic Weakness........ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

Net Interest Margin Signaling Economic Weakness

Positive rate spreads have been continuously identified as a sign the economy is not entering a recessionary environment. But given the artificial suppression of interest rates at the long-end of the curve, could rate spreads be misleading this time.

In a world of zero interest rate policy, NIM may be a more valid indicator of future economic activity.

In other words, economic forecasts based on the shape of the traditional curve may not be as relevant given the unprecedented monetary policy actions of the Fed.

Very low levels of interest rates are squeezing bank profits which is one of the key drivers of lending activity and a primary determinant of economic activity.Growth of the U.S. economy, even at today's below trend pace, is more dependent than ever on a continuation of credit growth.

If bank lending activity is challenged as a result of declining NIM, it would stand to reason that NIM may serve as a useful indicator of potential economic weakness.


YIELD SPREADS.......ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

YIELD SPREADS

Historically, yield spreads have been a good determinate of economic strength or weakness. However, in an environment where they are being artificially suppressed to support economic growth by pulling forward future consumption, the reliability becomes much more questionable.

The problem for the Fed, and why they can't raise rates, is that a tightening of monetary policy will quickly collapse yield spreads and negatively impact economic growth by raising borrowing costs at a very inopportune time. The only reason for raising rates is to provide clearance above ZERO to reload the "policy gun" prior to the onset of the next recession. 

And given historical tendencies, that event is likely closer than most believe!

Markets At Heavy Resistance............ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

Markets At Heavy Resistance


Nov 1, 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Ends.......

Nov 1, 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Ends

When local daylight time is about to reach
Sunday, November 1, 2015, 2:00:00 AM clocks are turned backward 1 hour to 
Sunday, November 1, 2015, 1:00:00 AM local standard time instead

Sunrise and sunset will be about 1 hour earlier on Nov 1, 2015 than the day before. There will be more light in the morning.

Also called Fall Back and winter time.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Phoniest Most Manipulated U.S. Market In History.......DO NOT MISS THIS!

The Phoniest Most Manipulated U.S. Market In History

At the beginning of the month, I showed that the NYSE short interest has risen to the highest level since July 2008, I said that this indicator either means that the market is poised for a crash as it did last time, or - would likely - result in the biggest short squeeze in history.

   

I said that "either a central bank intervenes, or a massive forced buy-in event occurs, and unleashes the mother of all short squeezes, sending the S&P500 to new all time highs."

Since then two things have happened: one after another central banks did intervene, leading to the biggest VIX monthly drop in history...



... and yes, as Bank of America said, "It's Not A Risk-On Rally, This Is The Biggest Short Squeeze In Years."

So, where does that leave us?

While we still haven't taken out the all time highs - there are about 30 points to go there; the following chart below shows, with just two trading days left, October is on pace forthe biggest monthly point jump in S&P 500 history.



... which courtesy of the earnings recession in the past two quarters, has pushed the market right beyond the point where back in May Janet Yellen said "valuations are quite high."

Every day when you flip on bubble vision the empty headed suits are telling you that now is the time to "buy" into the market. Of course, if you are buying, then who is selling? 



The only "net buyers" of equities this year have been "individuals," while"professional" firms have been "net sellers." This is the epitome of the classic"smart money/dumb money" analysis where individuals are used by institutions to offload positions that are no longer optimal. The question is with corporate profits and earnings declining, weak economic data, and the threat of tighter monetary policy - will individuals once again be left "holding the bag" while institutions derisk portfolios in advance of the next decline? 

And the answer is:

Yes, Individuals once again will be left "holding the bag" while institutions derisk portfolios in advance of the next decline?

If the professionals are looking at "risk" and planning on how to protect their capital from losses when things go wrong - then why aren't you?

 

Exactly how many warnings do you need?

Regulator Warns on Autos, Subprime, Commercial Real-Estate..........DO NOT MISS THIS!

Regulator Warns on Autos, Subprime, Commercial Real-Estate

If you look at auto sales, which are flirting with all-time highs, and at commercial real-estate prices, which are way beyond all-time highs, and if you look at the loans, including subprime, that make it all happen, you'd think the US economy is in a white-hot economic boom.

But the economy is barely limping along. 

What's booming is cheap but iffy debt that for the moment still looks good on the surface. And that is rattling bank regulators.

"We are clearly reaching the point in the cycle where credit risk is moving to the forefront," explained Thomas Curry, Comptroller of the Currency, in a 
speech today. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) – one in the triad of federal bank regulators alongside the Fed and the FDIC – is fretting about banks' exposure to the increasing risks of ballooning auto loans, particularly subprime auto loans, and commercial real-estate loans.

As they did in the run-up to the Financial Crisis, banks are "repackaging" these loans, including subprime loans, into highly-rated asset-backed securities, in face of "strong demand by investors" that are reaching for yield, in an environment where banks "are reaching for loan growth," Mr. Curry said. After having "already extended credit to their best customers," they're now lending to "less creditworthy borrowers, with all of the increased risk that entails."  HARD TO BELIEVE BUT TRUE, DOING THE SAME THING THAT TOOK THEM DOWN THE LAST TIME ON A LARGER SCALE. REALLY HARD TO BELIEVE!

But the auto-loan binge is good for everyone. It's good "for automakers and the economy," he said. "It's also good for banks," whose financing made "this activity possible." By the end of Q2, auto loans accounted for 10% of all retail credit in OCC-regulated banks, up from 7% in Q2 2011. GENIUS, PURE GENIUS!

Total auto-loan balances outstanding shot up 10.5% in 12 months at the end of the second quarter and hit $1 trillion, according to Equifax. And 23.5% of new loans earlier this year were subprime, up from 22.7% a year ago. THE ONLY THING LARGER THAN THEIR BOLDNESS IS THEIR STUPIDITY!

This is what the auto-loan boom looks like:



IF YOU LOOK AT THE CHART ABOVE 
AND DON'T SEE IT FOR WHAT IT IS, AN IQ TEST, THEN YOU ARE VERY LIKELY TO SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES IF YOUR STILL LOANING MONEY.

So Mr. Curry continues:

But what is happening in this space today reminds me of what happened in mortgage-backed securities in the run up to the crisis. At that time, lenders fed investor demand for more loans by relaxing underwriting standards and extending maturities.

Today, 30% of all new vehicle financing features maturities of more than six years, and it's entirely possible to obtain a car loan even with very low credit scores. With these longer terms, borrowers remain in a negative equity position much longer, exposing lenders and investors to higher potential losses.

Although delinquency and losses are currently low, it doesn't require great foresight to see that this may not last. How these auto loans, and especially the non-prime segment, will perform over their life is a matter of real concern to regulators.

Though auto loans – or most asset classes – aren't "inherently unsafe," he said, "what is inherently unsafe are excessive concentrations of any one kind of loan."

You don't need a very long memory to recall the central role that concentrations – whether in residential real estate, agricultural land, or oil and gas production – have played in individual bank failures and systemic breakdowns. It's an old movie that's been reprised on a regular basis.

And so he segued to the OCC's next warning: commercial real-estate loans.

Commercial property prices in the US rose 1% in September from August, and 10% from a year ago, according to the Green Street Commercial Property Price Index (CPPI). They have soared 97% from May 2009 and are now 21% higher than they'd been during the crazy days of September 2007, the peak of the commercial property bubble that collapsed with such splendid results during the Financial Crisis.



AGAIN, THE ABOVE CHART IS SIMPLY AN IQ TEST! 

"Property pricing has shown no signs of weakening" the Green Street report said. "But one has to wonder how long that will continue. The repricing of risk in the corporate bond market should prove to be a strong headwind for commercial property, where valuations are now rather full."

Even ratings agency Fitch, which rates Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities, is beginning to fret: "There is nothing inherently dangerous about a real estate cycle," Fitch explained last month, echoing the OCC. "It only becomes dangerous when market participants forget there is one." And it warned: "CMBS cannot afford a repeat of the 2008-2009 experience."

The Financial Crisis was caused by just these sorts of bubbles that blew up in near-sync. 

The response has been seven years of loosey-goosey monetary policies that inundated the world with liquidity and ultra-cheap money in order to inflate valuations to even higher and crazier levels than they'd reached before the Financial Crisis. That's the one thing monetary policies have accomplished. Forget the real economy. 

And the irony is that regulators are now publicly worried about the monster they've wrought.

Deflation on the Horizon............

Deflation on the Horizon

For years, a rather pointless argument has been ongoing amongst economists - that of inflation vs. deflation.

The principle countries of the world have amassed a greater level of debt than the world has ever seen and, of course this can only end badly. 

But will it end in inflation or deflation? 

To me, this discussion is akin to arguing whether the sun will rise in the morning or set in the evening.

Those who predicted inflation and those who predicted deflation will both be right. This will be an "equal-opportunity disaster."

Certainly, whenever there's an increase in the currency in circulation, there will be inflation. Yet we don't seem to be witnessing significant inflation. But, then, the massive quantitative easing that's occurred hasn't been widely circulated. It has, instead, been pumped into the banks, where most of it has stayed. Also, there has been inflation in the world in general, but less so in the US, as the US dollar is rising against most currencies. As a result of these factors, the traditional inflation before a crash has been limited.

The next major event in the row of dominoes is likely to be a crash in markets. Whilst it's obvious to anyone who studies economics that the bond and stock markets are in a bubble of historical proportions, the majority of people (those who rely upon the media for their financial guidance) are vainly hoping that political leaders will come up with an economic aspirin of some sort that will make the debt problem go away, eliminating the possibility of market crashes.

But, now, we're beginning to close in on the next crash. It's within view and is finally giving pause even to the many who had maintained that it would somehow not come to pass. It's beginning to look more real to the average person.

The bellwether has been a precursor drop in the stock market. This drop does not constitute a major 
crash, but neither is it just a brief anomaly. It's merely the first downward leg in the overall decline. There has already been a sharp correction to the upside. Decades from now, economics students will look back on The Greater Depression and their education will include a graph that begins in late 2015 – a jagged downward line than finally bottoms at or below 50% of the present level.

Plan on deflation following the crash.

Deflation always follows a crash. The coming deflation will be severe and long lasting.

The dollar won't go down right away. That will happen in the inflation period. 

Investors tend to muse that, if a market begins to decline, they will view the situation carefully and decide whether to sell some stocks and which ones to sell. Unfortunately, in a crash it's very unlikely to turn out that way. In a crash, the price is heading south rapidly and there's little time to ponder the situation. 

When the equity in a brokerage account falls below the maintenance margin, the brokerage issues a margin call that forces the investor to either pony up more cash, or have his portfolio sold off to make up the loss. This may come as an unwelcome and badly-timed shock, but there's worse to come. The greater downside is that the broker is not obliged to contact the investor prior to the sell-off. The broker may choose to sell any of the stocks he chooses in order to save himself, so, not surprisingly, he may well choose to sell those stocks that are not headed south, as it will be easier to find buyers.

Plan on Inflation, in Addition to Deflation

At this time, or relatively soon thereafter, the central banks can be expected to fulfil their oft-repeated promise that they will fight deflation with money printing. In all likelihood, we will see quantitative easing like never before. The banks will print as much as they feel is necessary to counteract deflation. However, this will have a more dramatic effect on increasing the cost of commodities than to relieve the fear of purchasing assets. The average person will readily buy food and fuel, but will not buy the boat or Harley that's for sale in the driveway down the block.

The increase in the cost of commodities will exacerbate the situation and the banks will respond by doing the only thing they know how to do – keep printing. Historically, when this happens, wages never keep pace with the rising prices of commodities, so the situation will worsen – deflation in asset prices with inflation in commodities.

Again, historically, this is a recipe for dramatic inflation that becomes hyperinflation. To my mind, this is the only uncertainty. Whilst the other dominoes described above are almost certain to fall, each in their turn, hyperinflation is the wild card. Hyperinflation occurs when the people of a country lose faith in the political/economic governance of the system. If it occurs, no government has ever succeeded in reversing it. It plays out until full economic collapse occurs.

If and when this happens, precious metals will most certainly retain their lustre and may provide a soft landing for those who have held their metals position during the doubtful times.


MONETARY FAILURE.........DO NOT MISS THIS!

MONETARY FAILURE

The connection between monetary stimulus and the stock market is a tenuous one that runs, ultimately, through corporate profits and therefore, to some degree, economic growth. In the past, monetary stimulus – rate cuts – was associated with weak stock market performance because it was applied when the economy was weakening and there was a presumed lag between a change in policy and its ultimate effect. Monetary policy works with long and variable lags as the economists put it. So, monetary stimulus was good for stocks but not right now; more stimulus was a sign of failure, that previous cuts weren't sufficient, in the judgment of the central bank, to revive growth.

In the 2000 recession and bear market, the Fed cut the Fed Funds rate from 6.5% to 1% over a period of roughly three years and the stock market fell for almost the entire time. In the last recession and bear market the Fed cut the Fed Funds rate from 5.25% to the current 0 – 0.25% range starting in July 2007. The stock market fell, again, almost the entire time rates were being cut. In both cases, the economy eventually turned the corner, earnings improved and stock prices followed. Whether that was due to monetary policy or in spite of it is hard, maybe impossible, to determine.

QE supposedly works differently, through the portfolio balance channel, a mixture of wealth effect and forced risk taking. QE removes high quality bonds from the market and forces investors to move out on the risk scale to replace the Treasuries they sell to the Fed. The effect is to reduce corporate borrowing costs in the hope that the borrowers will find something productive to do with the extra cash. Further, because QE forces more buyers into the private sector bond markets it raises the price of those assets. The owners of those assets feel wealthier and will presumably spend more, further stimulating economic growth. The European version is slightly different but looks to accomplish the same thing – force capital into the private sector. That's the basic theory anyway. THE HOPE, THE PRESUMPTION, THE OH MY GOD, WE HAVE NO OTHER SOLUTION SO THIS BETTER WORK, WE WILL MAKE IT WORK, WE WILL ALL GO DOWN TRYING TO MAKE IT WORK. HOPE AND OPTIMISM ARE NOT SOLUTIONS!

That it hasn't really worked that way is apparently no impediment to those unconcerned with correlation and causation. The fact that stock prices have risen during periods of QE is not sufficient to prove that QE caused higher stock prices. It may have been something else that caused stock prices to rise and if so, it would seem pretty important to figure that out before acting – buying – on promises of more stimulus. One might also consider why Draghi and the ECB believe more stimulus is needed and whether policy really does work with long and variable lags.  GREED AND CONFIDENCE IN THE FED 
ARE THE REASONS FOR MARKETS RISING OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS 
AND HAVING CONFIDENCE IN THE FED WILL ONLY LEAD TO A DISASTEROUS OUTCOME, COUPLE THAT WITH EXCESSIVE GREED AND IT SHOULD BE CLEAR THAT WE HAVE A MASSIVE PROBLEM. 

Stock prices are ultimately about earnings and the discount rate one applies to them. Monetary policy can have an impact on the discount rate directly but its influence over earnings is much less. There are many things that affect profit margins and earnings per share, most of them having little to do with interest rates or even economic growth for that matter. And since rates have been at this depressed level since 2008 one would think that stocks are no longer moving on expectations of a lower discount rate. That leaves earnings as the primary driver of stock prices and for anyone buying on the ECB QE and China rate cut news that might present a serious 
problem.

The immediate effect, besides pushing up stock prices, was a rise in the value of the dollar versus the Euro and the Yen. It seems to have been forgotten in the hoopla, the conditioned response to more monetary cowbell, but it was only a couple of months ago that the world's stock markets were reacting pretty negatively to a strong and steadily rising dollar. And for good reason if recent earnings reports are any indication. If stocks follow earnings – and ultimately they do – a rapidly rising dollar isn't going to be a positive development for US multinational companies. It also isn't good news – still – for countries trying to stem capital outflows.

Neither is it necessarily a positive development for the rest of the global economy. I have always been mystified that a strategy that drives capital away is considered stimulus. A more logical strategy would be to enact policies that attract capital not repel it. In fact, a cheaper currency doesn't solve any problem; it is merely an acknowledgment of past economic mistakes. A cheaper currency doesn't make a country poorer; it is a revelation of its true worth. It is the country's other economic policies that made it poor, a falling currency and the policy that produces it being merely the market's expression of that failure.

Central banks have been in the past year holding on for dear life, which is where obscurity has been their benefit. In the end, however, it will bring about their own downfall as it only serves to make matters worse. Yellen wants the central bank to be viewed as almost godlike, but they continually reveal themselves weak, deceptive and ineffectual; eschewing all long run sustainability in order to just make it through one day at a time.

Investors are now facing the second most extreme episode of equity market overvaluation in U.S. history (current valuations on similar measures already exceed those of 1929). The belief that zero interest rates offer no alternative but to accept risk in stocks is valid only if one believes that stocks cannot experience profoundly negative returns. We know precisely how similar valuation extremes have worked out for investors over the completion of the market cycle, and those outcomes have never been deferred indefinitely. The only question at present is how many grains are left in the hourglass.

The employment situation continues to deteriorate on a daily basis as Challenger, Grey & Christmas has reported layoff announcements by major corporations in 2015 that already exceed the total announcements in 2014.

Every manufacturing and services survey flash recession warning. Despite propaganda from the NAR, government and the MSM, the housing market is dead in the water.

The global economic situation has gotten so bad, central bankers have again come to the rescue by promising to prop stock markets up like they've been doing for the last six years.

U.S. economic data unequivocally indicates a recessionary environment on par with 2001 and 2008. 

The pessimism overriding the markets from August through October was warranted, based on reality, facts and historically accurate valuation methods. The 1,600 point reversal has been based solely on hope and faith in central bankers who have failed miserably in spurring economic recovery with their monetary machinations. 

The coming crash, will not be avoided through further central bank intervention.

Denial and putting trust in Ivy League educated academics who are terminally wrong in their predictions, policies, and solutions is not a logical plan. It's a recipe for disaster and another 50% haircut.

We are about to be transported back to the wonderful days of 1929. Time is growing short as the grains of sand in the hourglass run out.

Complacency At Epic Levels: "Few Are Ready For What Is Coming"..........

Complacency At Epic Levels: "Few Are Ready For What Is Coming"

Ben Bernanke's memoir is out and the chatter about it inevitably turns to the sickening moments in September 2008 when "the world economy came very close to collapse." Easy to say, but how many people know what that means? It's every bit as opaque as the operations of the Federal Reserve itself.

There were many ugly facets to the problem but they all boiled down to global insolvency — too many promises to pay that could not be met. The promises, of course, were quite hollow. They accumulated over the decades-long process, largely self-organized and emergent, of the so-called global economy arranging itself. All the financial arrangements depended on trust and good faith, especially of the authorities who managed the world's "reserve currency," the US dollar.

By the fall of 2008, it was clear that these authorities, in particular the US Federal Reserve, had failed spectacularly in regulating the operations of capital markets. With events such as the collapse of Lehman and the rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it also became clear that much of the collateral ostensibly backing up the US banking system was worthless, especially instruments based on mortgages. Hence, the trust and good faith vested in the issuer of the world's reserve currency was revealed as worthless.

The great triumph of Ben Bernanke was to engineer a fix that rendered trust and good faith irrelevant. That was largely accomplished, in concert with the executive branch of the government, by failing to prosecute banking crime, in particular the issuance of fraudulent securities built out of worthless mortgages. In effect, Mr. Bernanke (and Barack Obama's Department of Justice), decided that the rule of law was no longer needed for the system to operate. In fact, the rule of law only hampered it.

Mr. Bernanke now says he "regrets" that nobody went to jail. That's interesting. !!!!!!

More to the point perhaps he might explain why the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission did not make any criminal referrals to the US Attorney General in such cases as, for instance, Goldman Sachs (and others) peddling bonds deliberately constructed to fail, on which they had placed bets favoring that very failure.

There were a great many such cases, explicated in full by people and organizations outside the regulating community. For instance, the Pro Publica news organization did enough investigative reporting on the racket of collateralized debt obligations to send many banking executives to jail. But the authorities turned a blind eye to it, and to the reporting of others, since the legacy news media just didn't want to press too hard.

In effect, the rule of law was replaced with a patch of official accounting fraud, starting with the April 2009 move by the Financial Accounting Standards Board involving their Rule 157, which had required banks to report the verifiable mark-to-market value of the collateral they held. It was essentially nullified, allowing the banks to value their collateral at whatever they felt like saying it was worth.

Accounting fraud remains at the heart of the fix instituted by Ben Bernanke and the ploy has been copied by authorities throughout the global financial system, including the central banks of China, Japan, and the European Community. 

That it seemed to work for the past seven years in propping up global finance has given too many people the dangerous conviction that reality is optional in economic relations. The recovery of equity markets from the disturbances of August has apparently convinced the market players that stocks are invincible. Complacency reigns at epic levels. Few are ready for what is coming. !!!!

Afghanistan Requests Military Assistance From Moscow............

Afghanistan Requests Military Assistance From Moscow

With the US on its heels in the Mid-East in the face of an aggressive Russian air campaign and a resurgent Iran, regional governments are beginning to reassess their loyalties. First it was Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi proclaiming that his country would welcome Russian airstrikes against ISIS, then it was Jordan agreeing to coordinate militarily with Moscow, and now, in the latest embarrassement for the Pentagon, Afghanistan has reached out to Vladimir Putin for artillery, small arms and Mi-35 helicopter gunships.

Russia's Mid-East Takeover Continues.....

Russia has now received permission from Iraq to target ISIS convoys coming from Syria.

The Iraqi government authorized Russia to target Daesh convoys coming from Syria, a senior Iraqi official said.

Russia and Jordan agreed to create a coordination center in Amman, which will be used by the two countries to share information on the counter-terrorism operations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Finally, don't forget that with each move Russia makes towards replacing the US as Mid-East superpower puppet master, Iran gets that much closer to supplanting Saudi Arabia as regional power broker. The Kremlin's alliance with Jordan plays right into that dynamic as the Moscow-Tehran nexus is literally encircling Riyadh, Doha, and the UAE...

Washington's Syria "Strategy" In Complete Disarray As "Ally" Turkey Bombs US-Armed Rebels

In the latest example of US foreign policy gone horribly awry, "ally" Turkey is now bombing the very same Syrian Kurds who just two weeks ago received 50 tons (literally) of US weapons and ammo para 
dropped from on high. The situation has become so convoluted and self-defeating that one wonders how long it will be before someone in Congress decides it's time to take a look at exactly what's going on here and why it seems like this entire debacle is simply too bad to be true. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Record Swarm Of California Earthquakes Continues A Series Of Unusual Events That Began In Late September.........

Record Swarm Of California Earthquakes Continues A Series Of Unusual Events That Began In Late September

First it was wildfires, then it was unprecedented flooding, and now it is earthquakes.  
 
In the past two weeks alone, more than 400 earthquakes have shaken San Ramon – a small city that sits approximately 45 miles east of San Francisco.  

Never before have so many earthquakes been recorded in that area in such a short span of time.  

Standing alone, that earthquake swarm may not mean that much. But when you stand back and look at all of the unusual events that have been happening since late September, a very disturbing picture begins to emerge.



All over the planet, seismic activity seems to be increasing.  

Dozens of volcanoes around the world have recently erupted, and Afghanistan was just hit by a massive 7.5-magnitude quake. It was one of the worst earthquakes that Afghanistan has ever seen, and it is going to take months to deal with all of the damage. 

So it is alarming that right now there is record breaking earthquake activity just outside of San Francisco…

San Ramon, California, appears to have broken a new earthquake record over the last two weeks: A total of 408 small quakes have shaken the East Bay city, almost four times the record set in 2003 in half the amount of time.

"I've not felt so many tremors in decades," Mark Stone said outside a San Ramon Starbucks on Tuesday morning. "My dog, Gimmel, she's the first one to know a couple of seconds before." And his dog has been extra alert lately.


GROWTH EXPECTATIONS........ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

GROWTH EXPECTATIONS

Year after year, economic growth collapses from "hope" to "nope."

The question we are surprised everyone is not asking is, after 6 years of experimental extreme monetary policy that is utterly failing to create anything like escape velocity, isn't The Fed's inconvenient truth that they are impotent (as opposed to omnipotent) at anything other than financial asset inflation and the transitory mirage of wealth creation?


Economic Data Has Never Been This Weak For This Long............ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

Economic Data Has Never Been This Weak For This Long

It appears the 'trap' that central planners have set for themselves - by enabling massive financial asset inflation in the face of what is now the longest streak of economic weakness and data disappointment on record - now looks set to prove their impotence and insanity.

This period of economic weakness and disappointment is not just the longest on record, but it is entirely unprecedented..

.


U.S. ECONOMIC ACTIVITY.......ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

U.S. ECONOMIC ACTIVITY

Market Breadth Is Collapsing Again............ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

Market Breadth Is Collapsing Again

This is not the chart of a broad-based beginning to another leg of the bull market.

The breadth of the US equity market is "narrowing" dramatically; and bad breadth was a big flashing red feature of 1999.

US equity market breadth is the narrowest in over 2 years...


PROPPED UP HOME PRICES......ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

PROPPED UP HOME PRICES

THE ONLY THING HOLDING UP REAL ESTATE PRICES IS THE FEDS BALANCE SHEET....PERIOD!

ANOTHER 30 TO 50% DROP IS COMING AND THERE WILL BE NOTHING TO REVERSE THE FALL THIS TIME.

New home sales are plummeting and existing home sales, without NAR adjustments, show a negative trend.


Hedge Funds Suffer Worst Year Since 2011........ANOTHER PESKY FACT!

Hedge Funds Suffer Worst Year Since 2011

it is no longer possible to ignore the obvious: 
in the year in which central banks will unleash the greatest amount of liquidity in the "markets" in history, and where we have seen at least 77 easing steps taken by global central banks, hedge funds are poised to record their worst performance since 2011, according to JPM.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Turmoil And Revolution Lie Ahead..........

Turmoil And Revolution Lie Ahead


A revolutionary political earthquake lies ahead. 

The popularity of Trump foretells this. We're feeling the tremors right now. But the feeling of revulsion for the Washington establishment is not yet clear enough and widespread enough in the minds of the people to manifest in a revolutionary "break point." 

But I believe such a lack of widespread clarity is the lull before the storm. And the storm is coming in the form of a pervasive economic crash that will shake up Americans in a way they have never before experienced.

It is then that the needed clarity will be achieved. It is in times of great crisis that people are susceptible to a more truthful view of things, and will be more willing to take revolutionary action. If freedom is to be restored in America, it will be at this time when the establishment way of doing things for the past century – political centralization and Keynesian monetary theory – comes under suspicion as highly flawed ideology and political tyranny. 

It is here when all is chaos and despair that the coming break point will be reached and a chance to restore freedom will be available to us.

When the crisis really hits, when the dollar is dropping like a rock in a dry well, when tanks are in the streets to restore order in scores of new Fergusons and Baltimores pockmarking the country, when unemployment hits 25% and no one believes the BLS lies of 5% anymore, when the Feds are snooping in the skies above with thousands of drones over our own country, when a smarmy President spews out still another unctuous speech from the White House about how "government is here to help you," then the breaking point will be reached in the minds of the American people.

This profound "break point" is coming to America as sure as the tides wash in to our shorelines. 

Our stock market is like the Titanic on April 15, 1912. It is living on borrowed time, and all the King's men and horses are not going to be able to put this Keynesian Humpty Dumpty back together again. The coming economic crash will make 2008 look like a walk in the park. Humans' penchant for the "normalcy bias" is keeping us all in a state of dangerous apathy. It's the same mindset that prevailed on Wall Street in 1929, before Robespierre and the Jacobins in 1793, ahead of Lenin in 1917.

The coming tumult will bring us one of two profound choices. There will either be a rebirth of liberty and a harkening back to the principles that built our Republic prior to 1913, or there will be a plunge into a neo-fascist dictatorship in which we lose our freedom totally.

Which will it be? It all depends upon whether Americans still have that love of liberty dwelling in them and the courage to do something about it. If they do not, then a long and painful Dark Age awaits us. We certainly have major hurdles to overcome if freedom is to be saved. And the primary hurdle is whether we can influence enough Americans between now and the coming crash to be able to control political policy as we are climbing out of the swamp our reptilian leaders have created. 

This is the all-important time period – the aftermath of the Great Depressionary Collapse – when the country is rethinking its past policies and evaluating what role they had in the collapse. This is when it will be possible to implement radical ideas for the restoration of freedom.  POSSIBLE, YES. PROBABLE, KNOW! MOST AMERICANS ARE TOO UNINFORMED AND COWARDLY TO RISE TO AN OCCASION SUCH AS THIS.  


This is when libertarians, conservatives, and independents will be ready to break politically from the Darth Vaders of Washington who have been keeping Americans so submissive for the past 80 years. Then is when a charismatic leader will appear to offer the people a way back to sanity, a way back to the Republic.

I believe Americans still possess that love of liberty which would spawn such a restoration. But they will have to be informed as to what direction to move in an inspirational way that reaches millions of them. This cannot be done via conventional politics working within the Democrat-Republican establishment. The establishment is the problem, not the solution. What will be needed is a revolutionary way of thinking outside the box of Democrat-Republican conformity.

When the tumult is raging all around us, this is when we as a country will have to make our choice. Do we capitulate to the collectivists that rule our politics and economics in Washington, in the schools, and in the media? Do we obey their vision and move the country toward a regional government as a prelude to a One-World government? Do we centralize our banks into a World Banking system of fiat money? Do we further implement liberalism's neo-fascist political forms, but continue to fallaciously call such a system "capitalism" so as to ease it into the public conscience as a permissible way to govern?

Or do we move to restore the principles of freedom that built America – strictly limited government, federalism, and a literal interpretation of the Constitution? Do we begin to purge the countless "special privileges" with which our social welfare state maintains its power?

Will conservatives, libertarians, and independents be able to influence policy enough to reject the entire idea of Keynesian economics and restore a sound monetary system with a role for gold? Will we be swamped with the egalitarians and their shrieks for more wealth redistribution, or will we enact a flat tax that supports "equal rights," and eventually repeal the 16th Amendment and abolish the IRS? Will we continue pursuing the insane militaristic world hegemony of the neocons with trillion dollar military budgets and wars that dominate our foreign policy? Or will we recognize that such insanity is a great part of what bankrupted us and brought about the crash?

BOTTOM LINE, DO ENOUGH AMERICANS HAVE FAITH IN GOD AND THE COURAGE NECESSARY TO RISE UP AGAINST THE ENTRENCHED POWERS THAT BE, AT GREAT COST AND SACRIFICE TO THEMSELVES?  WHILE THERE ARE A FEW, A VERY FEW, MOST AMERICANS ARE FAR TOO COWARDLY TO EVEN LIFT A FINGER AND FIGHT BACK AT ALL, THEY WILL SIMPLY ROLL OVER AND COMPLY. 

Russia Could Be Plotting Attack That Would Cripple U.S. In Unimaginable Way............A VERY DANGEROUS WORLD!

Russia Could Be Plotting Attack That Would Cripple U.S. In Unimaginable Way

Apparently Russian President Vladimir Putin's increasingly aggressive military moves are coming not just in the air and on the land, but under the sea near vital communication lines.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that U.S. Navy officials are concerned about the level of Russian naval activity "near vital undersea cables that carry almost all of the global internet communications." The cables transmit more than $10 trillion in business activity daily, as well 95 percent of world's communications.

What the Times is calling the "ultimate Russian hack on the United States" could take the form of severing fiber-optic cables at some of the hardest to reach locations.

"I'm worried every day about what the Russians may be doing," said Rear Adm. Frederick J. Roegge, commander of the Navy's submarine fleet in the Pacific.

Cmdr. William Marks, a Navy spokesman in Washington, added: "It would be a concern to hear any country was tampering with communication cables; however, due to the classified nature of submarine operations, we do not discuss specifics."

"The level of activity" by the Russian military "is comparable to what we saw in the Cold War," a senior European diplomat told the Times.

Another concern is the possibility that the Russians are trying to not only search for vulnerable locations of the underseas cables used for general worldwide communications, but also locate special cables used by the U.S. government for military operations. Their locations are classified.

"Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of American naval forces in Europe, speaking in Washington this month, said that the proficiency and operational tempo of the Russian submarine force was increasing," according to the Times.

Ferguson cited remarks by Russian Navy chief, Adm. Viktor Chirkov, who stated that patrols have risen almost 50 percent over the last year. The admiral said it is part of Russia's emerging military doctrine of hybrid warfare, integrating conventional forces, Special Operations and new technologies on the battlefield.

"This involves the use of space, cyber, information warfare and hybrid warfare designed to cripple the decision-making cycle of the alliance," Admiral Ferguson said, referring to NATO. "At sea, their focus is disrupting decision cycles."

Can The Market Completely Ignore These Things?............

Can The Market Completely Ignore These Things?

We seem to be right back we we've been for seven years: more central bank easing triggers more stock market mania, and stock buybacks and "earnings surprises" push stock valuations ever higher.

But a couple of things have changed recently:

1. China's expansion has ground to a halt. 

China's insatiable demand for commodities and capital has pulled the global economy's cart for seven long years. Now that this demand is faltering, there is no equivalent economic/financial engine of demand to replace it.

2. Income for the bottom 90% in the developed world is stagnant/declining. 

The most basic assumption of central bank monetary policies since 2008 (QE, etc.) was that household income would rise as the economy recovered, enabling more household consumption/debt. This has not turned out to be true: for a variety of structural reasons, income of the bottom 90% of households has actually declined since 2000 when adjusted for official inflation.

3. The "wealth effect" from boosting global stock and junk-bond markets has been very limited.

The second basic assumption of central bank monetary policies since 2008 was that the rise in financial assets (stocks, bonds and real estate) would "trickle down" to households who would respond to the psychological sense of increasing wealth by borrowing and consuming more. What actually happened was the assets of the bottom 90% were gutted in the crashes of 2000-02 and 2008-09 and in many cases never recovered.

In terms of stocks, many in the bottom 90% decided against gambling money in the stock market after being wiped out by the dot-com crash. As a result, they missed out on the gains of the past seven years.

Many of those who traded up in the housing bubble of 2000-2008 and took on big mortgages found that the recovery in housing prices has at best restored their marginal equity but hasn't enriched them (with the exception of those who managed to buy in Manhattan, West L.A., San Francisco, etc., where gains have now exceeded the 2007 highs).

Millions of households that do not own homes in these hyper-hot globally attractive (and relatively small) markets are either still under water (they owe more than the home is worth after commissions and closing costs), or their equity is so limited that it doesn't create a "wealth effect."

4. None of the structural problems that triggered the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown have actually been fixed. 

I don't mean risky banking or lending fraud, as destructive as these were--I mean the demographics that have mooted the entire financial foundation of pensions, the rise in healthcare costs (let's estimate 750 million Baby Boomers globally are going to retire and need more medical care--75 million in the US alone), the unstoppable rise of automation that replaces human labor, the environmental disasters that have been papered over but not actually solved--the list is long.

5. The Oil Head-Fake is playing out. 

As demand plummets, oil producers have no choice but to keep producing to service their debts or fund their social welfare program costs. This sets up a mismatch in demand and supply that has pushed energy prices lower, gutting the budgets of oil exporters and crushing their currencies.

So the question going forward is: can the stock market completely ignore these changes and keep powering higher on the fumes of Central Bank promises and another rate cut or three in China?

At some point reality will trump fumes, and the manic rally will falter and the mania in stocks will end in tears.


The Fed Can’t Raise Rates, But Must Pretend It Will...........

The Fed Can't Raise Rates, But Must Pretend It Will

Waiting for Godot is a play written by the Irish novelist Samuel B. Beckett in the late 1940s in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, keep waiting endlessly and in vain for the coming of someone named Godot. The storyline bears some resemblance to the Federal Reserve's talk about raising interest rates.

Since spring 2013, the Fed has been playing with the idea of raising rates, which it had suppressed to basically zero percent in December 2008. So far, however, it has not taken any action. Upon closer inspection, the reason is obvious. With its policy of extremely low interest rates, the Fed is fueling an artificial economic expansion and inflating asset prices.

Raising short-term rates would be like taking away the punch bowl at a party that's not very good to begin with. As rates rise, the economy's production and employment structure couldn't be upheld. Neither could inflated bond, equity, and housing prices. If the economy slows down, let alone falls back into recession, the Fed's fiat money pipe dream would run into serious trouble.

This is the reason why the Fed would like to keep rates at the current suppressed levels. A delicate obstacle to such a policy remains, though: If savers and investors expect that interest rates will remain at rock bottom forever, they would presumably turn their backs on the credit market. The ensuing decline in the supply of credit would spell trouble for the fiat money system.

To prevent this from happening, the Fed must achieve two things.

First, it needs to uphold the expectation in financial markets that current low interest rates will be increased again at some point in the future. If savers and investors buy this story, they will hold onto their bank deposits, money market funds, bonds, and other fixed income products despite minuscule yields.

Second, the Fed must succeed in continuing to postpone rate hikes into the future without breaking peoples' expectation that rates will rise at some point. It has to send out the message that rates will be increased at, say, the forthcoming FOMC meeting. But, as the meeting approaches, the Fed would have to repeat its trickery, pushing the possible date for a rate hike still further out.

If the Fed gets away with this "Waiting for Godot" strategy, savings will keep flowing into credit markets. Borrowers can refinance their maturing debt with new loans and also increase total borrowing at suppressed interest rates. The economy's debt load can continue to build up, with the day of reckoning being postponed for yet again.

However, there is the famous saying: "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." What if savers and investors eventually become aware that the Fed will not bring interest rates back to "normal" but keep them at basically zero, or even push them into negative territory?

If a rush for the credit market exit would set in, it would be upon the Fed to fill debtors' funding gap in order to prevent the fiat system from collapsing. The central bank would have to monetize outstanding and newly originated debt on a grand scale, sending downward the purchasing power of the US dollar — and with it many other fiat currencies around the world.

The "Waiting for Godot" strategy does not rule out that the Fed might, at some stage, nudge upward short-term borrowing costs. However, any rate action should be minor and rather short-lived (like they were in Japan), and it wouldn't bring interest rates back to "normal." The underlying logic of the fiat money system simply wouldn't admit it.

The Fed - and basically all central banks around the world - are unlikely to accept deflation clearing out the debt, which would topple the economic and political structures built upon it. Fending off an approaching recession-depression with more credit-created fiat money and extremely low, perhaps even negative, interest rates is what one can expect them to do.

Murray N. Rothbard put it succinctly: "We can look forward... not precisely to a 1929-type depression, but to an inflationary depression of massive proportions."

Press-titution..............

Press-titution

The Western media has only two tools.

One is the outrageous lie. This overused tool no longer works, except on the most ignorant Americans.

The pinpoint accuracy of the Russian cruise missiles and air attacks has the Pentagon shaking in its boots. But according to the Western presstitutes the Russian missiles fell out of the sky over Iran and never made it to their ISIS targets.

According to the presstitute reports, the Russia air attacks have only killed civilians and blew up a hospital.

The presstitutes fool only themselves and ignorant Americans.

The other tool used by presstitutes is to discuss a problem with no reference to its causes.

Yesterday I heard a long discussion on NPR, a corporate and Israeli owned propaganda organ, about the migrant problem in Europe. Yes, migrants, not refugees.

These migrants have appeared out of nowhere. They have decided to seek a better life in Europe, where capitalism, which provides jobs, freedom, democracy, and women's rights guarantee a fulfilling life. Only the West provides a fulfilling life, because it doesn't yet bomb itself.

The hordes overrunning Europe just suddenly decided to go there. It has nothing to do with Washington's 14 years of destruction of seven countries, enabled by the ignorant Europeans themselves, who provided cover for the war crimes under such monikers as the "coalition of the willing," a "NATO operation," "bringing freedom and democracy."

From the Western presstitute media you would never know that the millions fleeing into Europe are fleeing American and European bombs that have indiscriminately slaughtered and dislocated millions of people.

Not even the tiny remnant of conservative magazines, the ones that the neocons have not taken over or exterminated, can find the courage to connect the refugees with US policy in the Middle East.

For example, Srdja Trifkovic writing in the October issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, sees the refugees as "the third Muslim invasion of Europe." For Trifkovic, the refugees are invaders who will bring about the collapse of the remnant of Western Christian Civilization. !!!!!

Trifkovic never mentions that the Europeans brought the millions of refugees upon themselves, because their corrupt political bosses are Washington's well-paid vassals and enabled Washington's wars for hegemony that displaced millions. 

Trifkovic believes that Europe will soon live under Sharia law. He wonders if America will "have the wherewithal to carry the torch."

The vast majority of Americans live in a fake world created by propaganda. They are disconnected from reality. 

America runs on rote platitudes. The presidents of Russia and China watch with amazement the immoral stupidity that has become America's defining characteristic. At some point the Russians and Chinese will realize that no matter how patient they are, the West is lost and cannot be redeemed.

The West is very likely to collapse from its own lies and the evil they perpetuate.

The Fate Of Syria's Christians Should Concern Us All..........

The Fate Of Syria's Christians Should Concern Us All

The world is witnessing the destruction of Syria, a country with a rich history going back millennia. But there is one significant minority that faces total annihilation if the radical factions prevail: Syria's Christian community.

Syria has played a crucial role in Christianity right from its very start. Paul was converted on the road to Damascus. There are important Christian landmarks there, some built by pious saints and daring knights over centuries. Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, can still be heard in some parts of the country.

Most importantly, there are 1.8 million people – 10% of the population – of various Christian denominations who now live in constant fear. That community has played a leading role in Syrian society and economy, which is why their (limited) civil rights had always been protected by the ruling dictators.

That is all changing now. In areas taken over by the Islamic State and other hardliners, Christian men have been murdered or abducted with their wives and children held hostage. What is left of their communities must convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face execution. The same has happened to other unfortunate Christians in Iraq, so the outcome is highly predictable.

Even "moderate" rebel groups are rumored to have committed similar atrocities. Not much of this is reported by the Western media, as after all these are "our" guys. But an insightful episode reported by the New York Times last year should force us to reflect upon the wisdom of the West's strategy here:

"On his eighth trip to fight with the rebels in Syria, in August, Abu Khattab saw something that troubled him: two dead children. He knew right away that his fellow rebels had killed them. Abu Khattab, a 43-year-old Saudi hospital administrator who was pursuing jihad on his holiday breaks, went to demand answers from his local commander, a notoriously brutal man named Abu Ayman al-Iraqi. The commander brushed him off, saying his men had killed the children "because they were not Muslims," Abu Khattab recalled recently during an interview here."

As a result of this persecution, since 2012 Syrian Christians have started to take a more active role in the war, forming militias which are now fighting alongside government and Kurdish forces. They have no other option. And this puts them in the firing line of Western-backed militants and their key ally in the region – Turkey.

The world is becoming increasingly aware of Turkey's nefarious role in the Syrian conflict. It has been known for some time that fighters wanting to join the Islamic State move with great fluidity through its borders. Rather than placing embargoes, the Turkish government has turned a blind eye to its merchants buying oil seized by the fundamentalists, thus offering an important economic lifeline. And it is bombing Kurdish fighters in Syria, one of the few forces that have proven to be effective in stopping Islamic militants.

But even more disturbing allegations have emerged recently. Two deputies from the main opposition Republican People's Party claim that their government might have been involved in sending toxic sarin gas used in an attack on civilians in Syria in 2013 where over 1,300 died. The public will never know because the investigation they requested was blocked. And it is this event that justified the West's intervention in the conflict.

Through these and other actions Turkey, an important NATO ally and aspiring European Union member, has become an accomplice of the worst crimes against humanity committed by the Islamic State and assorted fighters, all in the name of getting rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Incoming US Presidents place their left hand on a Christian Bible while taking the oath of office. Prime Minister David Cameron recently declared that Britain is still a Christian country. And yet it is Russia's President Vladimir Putin who is coming to the aid of Syria's beleaguered Christians.

Russia's latest intervention in the Syrian conflict evokes a very nuanced yet interesting parallel with the Crimean War in the mid-19th century. Back then the Czar judged – incorrectly – that Western powers would not oppose a Christian country facing off against the very Muslim Ottoman Empire. What followed was a pointless brawl that left hundreds of thousands dead. Nobody was better off in the end.

We wonder if Putin and his Western counterparts have considered this outcome. Surely there must be a better way forward for Syria and its neighbors, especially if they don't want to suffer the blowback effects from promoting extremism.

By condoning the destruction of its Christian, Jewish and other minorities while trying to appease their radical clerics, Muslim nations are shooting themselves in the foot. These have traditionally been the most educated and constructive communities among their ranks, without which a transition to more progressive, open and prosperous societies across the Middle East will be incredibly difficult.

One more reason why the fate of Syria's Christians should concern us all.